Vulnerable victims reporting crime to Cleveland Police can now access specialist advice and care at the very point of making the call.
Two Victim Care Officers from Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS) have been appointed to work in the Force’s Control Room as part of a pilot scheme to give immediate advice and support to victims.
As part of their duty to support victims across Cleveland, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) invested £51,474 to fund the recruitment of the two specialists, who will work in rotation alongside police call takers.
The investment was made following focus groups in which victims praised the support provided by VCAS, but said they would have welcomed their help at an even earlier stage.
When a call taker speaks to a victim who sounds distressed and worried, they can transfer the call to the Victim Care Officer – or arrange for an immediate call-back.
Should the pilot prove to be a success, it may become a permanent feature in a remodelled victim service in Cleveland.
VCAS worker Sam Harrison took up her post in Control Room earlier this year. She said: “By co-locating in Force Control Room, I hope victim care will be at the forefront of call takers mind when taking calls and identifying vulnerabilities.
“Not only will we arrange specialist support for victims of crime, but we will also signpost any vulnerable person who needs help accessing other services.”
Cleveland OPCC co-commission VCAS with the Office of the Police, Crime and Victims Commissioner for Durham, investing £364,500 a year in the service.
Acting Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Oldroyd said: “It’s really important that we listen to victims when they tell us how and when they would like to access support.
“I’m confident that this pilot will not only provide an enhanced service for victims and vulnerable people in Cleveland, but will ease pressure on police call takers, who have limited time to speak to vulnerable people.
“I’m pleased that we’ve been able to listen to feedback and design a pilot that will better meet the needs of victims in Cleveland, to help them recover and move forward with their lives.”
Superintendent Cath Galloway, from Cleveland Police Force Control Room, said: “I am really pleased to welcome the Victim Care Officers into control room. Their work enables us to offer victims across Cleveland the necessary support and advice at the earliest possible stage should they want to access it. I look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure that victims’ needs are at the forefront of everything we do.”